Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Info Innovators Discuss 10 Ways Your Project Can Fail

June 17, 2010, 8:26 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Earlier today, in day two of the 2010 Future of Civic Media conference, attendees learned 10 Ways to Fail. Rick Borovy at the C4FCM led an earlier the session and drew a chart showing how to start something from nothing. He said you have to design a trajectory to get people on board and get your project validated.

Jan Schaffer of American University's J-Lab said smaller grants can help with validation, and Dale Peskin of We Media said you have to give up ego and exclusivity at each stage of the game. Amanda Hickman and Eric Umansky of Document Cloud talked about the importance of sustainability. They said it can be as hard to maintain an organization as to succeed as a start-up.

NYU's Jay Rosen has a different approach: he starts by assuming new ideas will fail. Once he comes up with an idea that seems viable and essential, he enlists people, time, and money bit by bit to build the project. But, he says, it only works if you're a tenured professor! ;)

We talked about how to enlist stakeholders, take no for an answer, and discuss failure. Most people agreed that it was a bad idea to make a big investment to test a new idea. Retha Hill, co-founder of CitySeed, talked about how she changed a failed idea after a test run with a sharpie and construction paper.

Follow Knight News Challenge projects' successes and failures at Idea Lab and follow the Future of New and Civic Media Conference @MIT on twitter: #fncm.